Lately, there have been more attempts to branch videogames out to other forms of media. I'm not talking about the (all-too-frequently horrible) adaptations of established properties, rather attempts to tie-in comic books (Prototype), films and complex web sites (Dead Space) with the intent of expanding a new property before the game itself is actually released.
This week's community guest is Pendleton21. Hit the jump to see what the gang has to say.
Jim Sterling: As with any medium, I think this is something that works on a case by case basis. Take, for example, Star Wars, which has had supplementary storylines woven into the universe from all corners -- comics, books, videogames, whatever. In most cases, the supplementary stuff has surpassed the original work. I don't really love any of the SW films, but I love the "expanded universe."
Jonathan Holmes: Jim makes some strong points (as usual). I agree with him 100% on the idea that a game needs to offer us an "astoundingly entrancing" world in order justify spin-offs into other media. More than that though, I think these spin-offs need to be made by people who truly love their source material. Too often, these spin-offs end up being made in-part because the creators of the games in question wished they had been working in another form of media in the first place. It's no secret that a lot of Western developers (with the exception of Will Wright) have a tendency to try to make their games as much like movies as possible, because deep down they wish they worked in a different industry.
Joseph Leray: For me, these external forms of media stink of lazy writing. They act more as a crutch than anything else.
Hamza Aziz: The Halo books (except for the latest one) are all fantastic and tell you so much more about the universe. You'll actually give a shit about the story thanks to the books. Sadly, the story in the games are horrible. Halo 1 did a good job for the most part, but the other games failed.
Colette Bennett: I tend to agree with Orcist on supplemental content-- I want it to be good, but I feel for the most part it rarely matches up to the quality of the games. If it did, I'd be all about it. As Jim said, Silent Hill is an incredible universe I want more of, and I can think of a few other games I would love to see supplemental content for. In the case of a title like Valkryria Chronicles, I expect the anime will be as good as the source material if not better.
Dyson: I agree with all the points made, but I differ in the opinions of some of the games mentioned. I truly liked the Dead Space comic and also thought that the supplemental movie was a great precursor to the game. I feel that it was really well done and made me get more from the game's experience when playing it. I borrowed the Mass Effect book from a coworker and it was well written enough to the point that it made me psyched for the game, too. I never got around to playing it much, but I think the book did a good job.
Joseph Leray: But wouldn't it have been better if Dead Space and Mass Effect had sucked you in because they were well-written games with their own well-developed histories and universes? I mean, it's great that you enjoyed the anime and the books, but it's an easy excuse for devs to skimp out on the actual game itself. I want to get anime- and literature-quality writing in my games, not game-quality universes in spin-off books.
Jonathan Ross: I'm not going to have much to contribute, because I typically ignore all that extra marketing crap because, from what I've heard, it usually sucks. I think the closest thing I've gotten to participating in any of that was when I was like 9 and got a VHS from Nintendo about Donkey Kong Country, and that isn't really even similar to what we're talking about.
Hamza Aziz: With some games, specifically Dead Space and Halo, were dropped in right during a major event/conflict. I think it was more interesting to be dropped in not completely understanding what was going on. It builds up suspense and keeps the player going as they play through.
Pendleton21: Well, Jim, the thing is, one of my favorite pieces of supplemental media came from a game with almost no story. Sonic The Hedgehog, which had (and still has) an extensive comic and Saturday morning cartoon franchise to bulk up it's story. What's strange about it, though, is that none of these things have anything to do with the actual Sonic games. In none of the games do you have the amazing Freedom Fighters, the great backstory with Sonic's parents dying, and his uncle being changed into a robot. Some of my favorite moments in the Sonic franchise came from Sonic media, not a Sonic game.
Colette Bennett: See Hamza, I love the fact that those additional story bits were
Jim Sterling: I'm with Colette on hiding the story snippets. A little digging to uncover more of what happened is definitely a good thing.
Hamza Aziz: I love story and hate the fact that I'm missing something because it's so well damn hidden. I understand the feeling of finding something hidden, but hate knowing that I'm missing a chunk of the plot.
Dyson: Well, I was lucky enough to not have to pay for anything Dead Space related, so that aspect can factor in. I also don't think I needed to read the Mass Effect book to get me into the game, but by reading it on my own it increased my interest.
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